Push universal health care for Pinoys, HMOs dared
Business Mirror: HEALTH-MAINTENANCE organizations, also known as managed health- care providers, are seen as a strong partner of the government in promoting its goal of providing universal health care for all Filipinos, rich or poor.
Speaking at the 2012 Recognition Night of Fortune Medicare Inc., or FortuneCare, for its top sales producers on Wednesday, Dr. Eduardo P. Banzon, president and chief executive officer of Philippine Health Insurance Corp., challenged the HMO sector to provide “supplemental health insurance coverage” that will bolster PhilHealth’s universal health-care agenda.
Through HMOs, he said, “industry and the private sector can provide a second layer of health-insurance coverage without PhilHealth coming in” for the segment of the population that can afford to pay the cost of health-insurance coverage.
FortuneCare’s Recognition Night, billed as “The Red Carpet Affair,” honored the winners of the company’s annual sales contest. At the Citystate Tower Hotel to welcome guests, officers and staff, members of the sales force, particularly the winners, were top company executives J. Antonio A. Cabangon Jr., chairman of the board and chief executive officer; Dorothea J. Sibal, president and chief operating officer; Jonathan E. Gutierrez, senior vice president for marketing and sales; and other officers.
The awardees were led by Amelia C. Raviz, first place as Agency Manager of the Year, followed by Anna Marie H. Borbe and Myra Shiela F. Arriola, second and third places, respectively.
PhilHealth’s universal health-care agenda, based on objectives defined by President Aquino, gives priority attention to the poor, especially the poorest of the poor, in light of findings that 60 percent of Filipinos die without professional medical care.
By taking care of “those who want nicer [medical)] care” and can afford it, HMOs like FortuneCare will help PhilHealth concentrate its efforts and resources on the millions of poor Filipinos, Banzon said.
To date, based on PhilHealth records, HMOs like FortuneCare provide health-care coverage to about 20 percent of the population, with its coverage increasing about 20 percent annually.
Banzon said making the HMO sector its active partner is one scheme by which it hopes to expand health-insurance coverage to other sectors of the population, besides the very poor.
Adjustments can be considered, he said, in computing the costs of HMO coverage, like enrollment charges, physicians and other health professionals’ fees, and other factors, in order that membership in an HMO can be made more affordable to Filipinos.
“You lower your price, we give you volume,” he said, referring to the bigger number of prospective cardholders that lower rates will allow.
Banzon also asked HMOs to support Philhealth initiatives, particularly the “no billing balance policy” for all PhilHealth members to allow poor members to save on hospitalization bills.
In his response, Cabangon said FortuneCare is committed to extend health-coverage protection to the biggest segment of Filipinos possible. Exhorting the sales people to pick up Banzon’s challenge to push universal coverage, he urged them to “go out and sell more.”
He also said he had long sought to collaborate closely with PhilHealth; and, in fact, he explained, “FortuneCare has been expanding PhilHealth’s membership by advising non-members to enroll for membership with the agency.”
TV personality Giselle Sanchez was on hand to entertain the crowd during a special intermission.
Established in 1985 by Ambassador Antonio L. Cabangon Chua, its chairman emeritus and founder, FortuneCare paved the way for the HMO industry as one of its pioneers. To date, it has paid over P3 billion in health-care benefits to its members as it continues to be among the top players in the industry today.